The Foreign Relations of the “Hyksos”

The Foreign Relations of the “Hyksos”:

A Neutron Activation Study of Middle Bronze Age Pottery from the Eastern Mediterranean

BAR International Series 888

by P. E. McGovern,  with a contribution by Tine Bagh

Oxford: Archaeopress, 2000



by Patrick E. McGovern and Christopher Wnuk

”It is rare that a technical pottery study entails rewriting history, or, at least, archaeological hypotheses.  But according to the Neutron Activation Analysis results presented here, the very earliest contacts of the “Hyksos” at Tell el-Dab`a/Avaris were overwhelmingly with its nearest Levantine “neighbors” in Southern Palestine and not farther north, and this pattern continued throughout the MBA” (final paragraph of the book–p. 83).

This monograph explores and elucidates a period of exceptional cultural interaction, trade, the transfer of technologies (e.g., new types of fast-wheel-thrown pottery), and ethnic origins in the ancient Near East, Egypt, and the Mediterranean world: the Middle Bronze Age, ca. 1950-1550 B.C.

S. J. Bourke, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 326 (2002), pp. 90-94: “McGovern’s long-awaited study on the chemical composition of some 608 pottery and clay samples drawn from the Egyptian east Delta site of Tell el-Daba (the Hyksos capital of Avaris) represents a major contribution to our understanding of the nature of the Hyksos presence in the eastern Delta, and the changing patterns of trade and (perhaps) political relationships with their eastern Mediterranean neighbors over the first half of the second millennium B.C….it is McGovern’s work that has provided a wide-ranging analytical underpinning to form-based based observations and revealed much about the mercantile relations of the Hyksos capital in so doing. It is a considerable achievement.”

H.Neff, SAS  Newsletter 25 (2002), pp. 25-26:  “McGovern must be commended for overcoming all of the various hurdles and bringing this very useful volume to publication….[he] has done a highly competent job of making sense of a complex database of INAA results, and the study sheds considerable light on Middle Bronze Age interaction patterns in the eastern Mediterranean.”